This week in L.A. tech and startup news: Xponential Fitness filed for an IPO. Torrid and Evgo debuted on Wall Street. Relativity Space expanded into a new Long Beach facility. Genies has a new headquarters in Marina del Rey. Accelerator Plug and Play opened a location in Downtown L.A. and SoCal startups ServiceTitan, Quizziz, FightCamp, TapCart, TOCA Football and Retina AI raised funding.

A New Fund Focused on Conscientious Consumers

With their new $28 million fund, Deborah Benton and Amanda Schutzbank aren't looking for the next billion-dollar exit. Their seed-stage firm Willow Growth Partners wants to invest in the kind of profitable "conscientious consumer" brands that abound in Los Angeles.

The LA Startups Rethinking Psychedelics

For some patients, psilocybin offers relief that SSRIs — the pharmaceuticals of choice for treating depression and anxiety — cannot. As California comes closer to decriminalizing psychedelics, we look at the SoCal startups poised to offer new treatments.

Using VR to Address Depression and Anxiety

Can a virtual-reality platform trigger the therapeutic effects of psychedelics? L.A.-based TRIPP is in the midst of clinical trials to test the efficacy of altering mind states in addressing anxiety and depression — without the drugs.

AI As An Art Form

The rise in NFTs has shifted the conversation around digital artwork. Playform is trying to stay one step ahead, making its AI toolkit available to artists and giving them full control of their intellectual property.

Peak NFT

Just when the world thought the NFT craze couldn't get any stranger, contemporary artist Matty Mo announced an auction of a non-fungible token sponsored by L.A.'s Seed Health, made of human feces and intended to benefit autism research.

Ring’s CTO Pushes Back 

As Ring expands their user-base, it's come under scrutiny from its work with law enforcement. We sat down with Ring's CTO to talk about about how the company sees its mission of protecting privacy in an age of surveillance.

LA's New Rules for Robots

Los Angeles is developing rules for robots to deliver food and other goods to Angelenos. It's also looking to roll out a pilot program for robots throughout the city. But the robots are already here.

This week in L.A. tech and startup news: Sweetgreen filed for an IPO. Snapchat partnered with UMG. Hedge fund giant Bill Ackman's SPAC bought a piece of UMG. Bionaut got a special drug designation from the FDA, and SoCal startups Songtradr, Mapped and GOAT raised funding.

Turning Local Food Trucks Into MVTs

On The Go LA has ambitious goals. The startup is appealing to immigrant communities, whose members make up much of the back-of-house work force in the city's restaurants, by providing relatively inexpensive access to a mobile kitchen. In the process it hopes to give would-be food entrepreneurs the resources to try out new business concepts.

A Robot Army For the Little Guy

As manufacturers scramble to fulfill orders for a booming ecommerce industry in an increasingly tight labor market, inVia Robotics and Rufus Labs are offering a robot subscription service that smaller companies can afford.

Who's Paying What for Creator Content

Within the last two years, at least 10 different platforms have announced "creator funds" to pay out artists and influencers as social media companies battle for eyeballs. We took a look at who's paying for what, and why.

A Snapchat Post is Protected Free Speech

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a Pennsylvania high school violated a student's First Amendment rights when it punished her for posting a profane message on Snapchat expressing her frustration about not making the varsity cheerleading team.

FIGS Co-CEOs on Their Epic IPO

The Santa Monica company was the first led by two female CEOs and co-founders to go public; it was the first healthcare apparel company to go public, and it was the first company to make its IPO available on Robinhood. As of Friday, its stock price has nearly doubled from its initial offering.

A New Fund In Newport Beach

Ankona Capital — started by Josh Harmsen, Jared Smith, Brain Mesic and Newth Morris — focuses on business-to-business software companies. It just raised its first fund, which was oversubscribed at $66 million.

Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled Bill Ackman's name.

This week in L.A. tech and startup news: California businesses reopened and the state updated its guidelines for workers and rolled out a vaccine verification program. Short video platform TrillerNet plans to go public. Faraday Future and Canoo announced their plans to manufacture electric vehicles. Capsida partnered with CRISPR Therapeutics, and startups Formative, Heliogen and Kindra raised funding.

Ordermark, NextBite — and What Comes After COVID

Alex Canter, the heir to L.A.'s beloved Canter's Deli, built a multimillion-dollar business that helped mom-and-pop restaurants survive during the pandemic. But as his new venture gains steam, many restaurateurs are wondering whether it's feeding them business, or cannibalizing their customers.

Airdropped Tacos: This Summer's Drone Delivery Boom

Later this month, Costa Mesa-based El Pollo Loco, known for its fire-roasted chicken, will test "Air Loco," its drone delivery service that will take food from its kitchens to customers' backyards. As more diners came to rely on delivery during the pandemic, restaurants are looking for alternative cheaper and more efficient ways to bring food to customers' homes.

TrillerNet Plans to Go Public at $5B Valuation

On the heels of launching a subscription service to solidify its ongoing shift into live events, TrillerNet — owner of short form social video app Triller — is preparing to go public via a direct listing, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Documentary Plus Gives Filmmakers a Cut of Their Data

Streaming service Documentary Plus is doing what Netflix never has – sharing detailed data with filmmakers about who is watching their creations. "My hope is by doing this we spark a very real conversation about who has the right to that data, who owns that data and what should it be used for," says the founder of the studio behind the streaming service.

Bill Gross' Big Sunny Dream Gets Funding

Heliogen CEO Bill Gross wants the company's Lancaster thermal energy facility to power heavy industries like cement and steel processing and replace fossil fuels with entirely renewable energy. On Tuesday, the company got a $108 million boost to deploy the system around the world.

LA Space News: Mars Missions and Orbiting Hotels

Long Beach-based aerospace manufacturer Rocket Lab landed a contract with NASA to design a twin Photon spacecraft for a Mars mission that will begin in 2024.

Meanwhile, Fontana-based space construction company Orbital Assembly is working on autonomous robots that can build luxury hotels in space.

The New Crop of SoCal Life Science Startups

Twenty-seven startups based in Southern California academies from Caltech to USC and the UC system presented their ideas to investors. It was all part of this year's First Look SoCal Innovation Showcase. We profiled three promising teams that took part.

Using NFTs to Give Black Dance Artists Credit for Their Creations

Black creators aren't often credited or properly compensated in the fragmented, copycat world of user-generated media. NFTs could offer one way to change that. This weekend, an L.A.-based entertainment startup is auctioning off holograms to do just that.